Australia Day. I never know what to think about it.
I don’t understand quite how it is appropriate to celebrate the day a colonial power ran up the flag to found one colony of several that later federated to become a nation. That nation, of course, failed to recognise the nations already here. And the day itself was the day of a ceremony, not the day the leader of the British expedition set foot on Australian soil.
So all up, not a great day in many ways.
I also find it hard to digest Australian nationalism. My most vivid memory of the Cronulla Riots was one of the white hoons who wrote “2030: We grew here, you flew here” on his chest.
The rhyme, I’ll leave alone. The postcode has long amazed me. How one can hold up the artificially created postal administration district one inhabits as any kind of cultural signifier is utterly beyond me. It’s become kind of a metaphor for me of the futility of nationalism, especially for shallow-rooted nations like Australia.
How can anyone declare “my recently agglomerated section of land and its dominant values is superior to your agglomeration of land and its cultural values” is beyond me. I just don’t get it.
Right about now, some folks will be thinking that if I think so little of Australia, why don’t I get the hell out.
But as it happens, I do think an awful lot of Australia. I was astounded by the strength in our society that allowed a peaceful handover of government. In case you missed it, government gets formed like this:
Governor General to leader of party with majority in the House of Representatives: “So you have a majority in the house of representatives?”
Leader of Said Party: “Yep. I’m pretty sure I do.”
Governor General: “Righto then. I give you the power to run the place.”
In a world where power is so often held or seized by force, or desired for personal enrichment at the expense of the populace, that conversation, the generally modest desire for self-enrichment by those in power and the changes that flow from it are utterly remarkable. It is also, I think, far more deserving of reflection on our national day than the day settlers
arrived got around to installing a flagpole. It says more about our culture than prattle about “mateship” or “a fair go” ever will.
And its far more important than your postcode!